It was my 4th trip to Nashville and I’ve already seen a lifetime of great football there:
- The 24-10 divisional playoff win following the 2000 season in what most agree was the Super Bowl that year.
- The goal-line stand on Monday Night the following season that preserved the Ravens 16-10 win
- The 27-26 thriller in 2006 sealed by Pryce’s blocked FG
- Saturday’s 13-10 war
The fans there are the nicest we have met in traveling, and have consistently welcomed us. The games have been repetitiously thrilling, but *sigh*, I’ll just have to accept that.
The Titans have retooled with a very talented team, optimized the use of a journeyman QB, and even renamed their seemingly cursed facility. No matter. The Ravens still own that stadium on the Cumberland River.
There were again no kneels or spikes executed by the Titans:
Overall: 71 plays, 391 yards, 5.5 YPPA. This was the most defensive snaps for the Ravens this season.
Best: Walker 27/101, 3.7 YPPA, Ivy 32/138, 4.3 YPPA
Worst: Suggs 27/188, 7.0 YPPA, Bannan 32/211, 6.6 YPPA
Vs. the Run: 28 carries, 116 yards, 4.1 YPC
Best: Douglas 17/63, 3.7 YPC
Worst: Pryce 18/84, 4.7 YPC, Suggs 14/72, 5.1 YPC. Obviously, the timing of Johnson’s injury was significant for those who played primarily in the 1st or 2nd half.
Vs. the Pass: 43 pass plays, 275 net yards, 6.4 YPP
Best: Walker 17/63, 3.7 YPP
Worst: Bannan 16/139, 8.7 YPP, Suggs 13/116, 8.9 YPP
By number of Pass Rushers:
3 or fewer: 5/14, 2.8 YPP
4: 21/131, 6.2 YPP, 1 Sacks, 1 TO
5: 15/130, 8.7 YPP
6: 2/0, 0.0 YPP, 1 TO
7: None, and still none in the playoffs to date
By number of Defensive Backs:
3: 1/1, 1.0 YPPA (1 play with the Titans backed up to their own 1-yard line)
4: 38/252, 6.6 YPPA, 1 Sack
5: 20/90 yards, 4.5 YPPA, 2 TO
6: 9/32, 3.6 YPPA
7: 3/16, 5.3 YPPA, 1 TO
· Leonhard was easily the Ravens’ MVP, with a game that included:
- the come from behind tackle on Johnson (Q1, 8:09) that temporarily prevented a TD
- the diagnosed screen pass to Scaife for a 5-yard loss on 3rd and 3 (Q2, 14:24)
- the FR on White’s fumble (Q2, 0:36)
- the QH on Collins that resulted in an incomplete on 3rd and 9 (Q3, 14:15)
- the 29-yard punt return (Q3, 1:58) to set up the FG that put the Ravens up 10-7
- the pivotal FF on Crumpler (Q4, 9:08)
· It’s difficult for me to understand how Fisher seems to have escaped most of the blame for this loss. He mentioned the turnovers and missed FG in his post-game press conference, but made 3 serious game-management errors.
- Not getting the wind in the 4th quarter was inexcusable. The Titans won the toss. Had they not felt the need to defer, they would either have had an extra possession in the 2nd half or the wind in Q4. Watching the kickers warm up for the 2nd half, it was clear Stover’s into-the-wind limit might have been 40 yards, but that he might have connected from 50 with the wind.
- After Lewis, Zibby, and Ivy stopped Gage (Q4, 4:50), Fisher went for the tying FG on 4th and less than a yard at the Baltimore 10. It certainly wasn’t an aggressive play, nor one which showed confidence in his well-rested defense. That defense had been on the field for just 3 of the previous 18 offensive snaps and allowed just 7 first downs all day to that point. Had the Titans made a 1st down, the Ravens would have been sorely pressed to stop them from scoring a TD, if in fact they had not scored on 4th down. Had the Ravens managed to summon up a special defensive play and stop the Titans, they would still have taken over near the 10. An ancillary benefit of going for the first down and subsequently settling for a FG would have been the greatly reduced time for the Ravens to score to win in regulation. It was a decision that would not be questioned (in fact, Dierdorf called it a “no-brainer” to kick), but it was a very questionable decision. It would take me significant space to explain the win probabilities as I would estimate them, but if you’re interested, there is a good model available at Advanced NFL Stats. In my opinion, the model is understating the impact of the Ravens overworked defense, but it still shows that The Titans’ probability of winning would have been significantly higher had they gone for it.
- After McGahee ran for 1 yard on 1st and 10 (Q4, 1:49), Fisher declined to call a timeout. Had the Titans been able to stop the Ravens on consecutive plays for less than 9 yards with a TO after each, the Ravens would have been faced with a long FG attempt (no closer than 43 yards) with the knowledge that the Titans would have approximately 1:11 to drive for a tying FG or winning TD. Given Stover’s difficulties beyond 40 yards this season, the FG was far from given and a miss would have set up excellent field position. The Titans also might have conserved a timeout by forcing the Ravens to throw for a first down. If that sounds familiar it’s because that’s exactly what happened. The Ravens gained 8 yards on 2 plays, Stover made the biggest kick of his career, and the Titans were left with just 47 seconds. It was a clock-management blunder for the ages and makes Fisher eligible to be enshrined in the Del Greco wing of 1 Winning Drive.
- Fisher has been a good coach, has served on the competition committee, and is viewed as one of the most knowledgeable game managers, but he, like his team, was off his game on Saturday and we Ravens’ fans should all be very thankful for that.
· The Ravens 3 biggest defensive plays:
- Leonhard FF on Crumpler is recovered by Washington (Q4, 9:08)—Crumpler was probably the most distraught of the Titans after the game, although White had an equal right to be so.
- Lewis slows down Gage for Zbikowski and Ivy (Q4, 4:50)—This play left the Titans approximately 12-18 inches short of a 1st down and Fisher took the tying FG (see above commentary).
- Tie between Rolle’s INT (Q2, 4:17) and JJ’s FF/Leonhard’s FR (Q2, 0:36)—The first ended a 13-play, 67-yard drive that had reached the Ravens 32. The second sent the game to the half still tied.